For those of you who are hesitant to trust Twitter as a business benefit, I understand. You type up a 140-character message, put a few # tags on it so people can search on it, and hope that some of your followers are actually interested (if you get enough followers). Theoretically, I know the benefits of a tweet. I even thought I knew the benefits of a re-tweet. But when I sat back and thought about the many, many marketing avenues that we’ve taken as a company over the past 20 years (and yes, I’ve been here almost that long), I can’t think of a faster way to get across a message.
I wouldn’t say “viral” is 10,000 people (an initial calculation of a recent re-tweet by an analyst), but I would say that getting a message out to customers, prospects, and analysts that is more of an “opt in” or “I’m scanning tweets while I’m in a seminar” mode, is significant. People these days want to be distracted. That’s how they function. That’s how fast they’re moving. And what better way to get in front of them than a 140-character message that appears in their Twitter feed on their phone for a few minutes until it’s pushed off the screen by other fast-moving tweets. If you’re not on Twitter, this may seem foreign. You may even think (like so many I know), “Do I really care that Joe is at an IBM summit about big data”? But think of it this way, since Joe had enough time to post that he’s at the summit, chances are he has enough time to see your tweet. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll pique his interest enough that he’ll click the link to the blog you’ve referenced — you might actually get him to take the action you want.
Let’s translate this to your service organization. You hear about people blogging, and you tend to think it falls in the marketing area. However, executives and colleagues are now blogging, so you jump in and write an opinion on the future of service. You delineate how agents and engineers are upselling more, can see contract and warranty information, have schematics available, need sleek mobile devices, work seamlessly in disconnected and connected modes, and more. The blog is now on your web site, and marketing launches a campaign hitting your prospect database and customers via an email blast. They post access to it via the company Facebook page, and post a message on LinkedIn—a great mix of traditional and social avenues.
But it’s not until your team tweets it that masses of people become aware. Why? When you tweet, your messages go out to all of your followers — not unlike posting on Facebook. But let’s say one of your Twitter followers decides your blog is interesting enough to re-tweet. This follower happens to have 7,000 followers – many of whom are in your particular industry.
In five minutes — less than the time it took to write your 140-character message — you now have touched 7,150 people. What are the chances that one of those 7,150 is going to re-tweet it again? Certainly better than your original 1 in 150 chance. Your chances now of just doubling the 7,150 people who read it are pretty strong. Better, the person that re-tweeted it basically extended you a warm handshake. He’s not going to re-tweet just anything because he then loses face within his own Twitter following. He’s only going to provide content he feels is interesting or noteworthy to his base. It’s like an electronic pyramid scheme with the ability to change the product on a whim. Now this is marketing.
I realize this seems self evident to many of you. The issue is that those people dipping their toe in the Twitter water are nervous about unintended consequences….nervous about whether they actually understand who will see their message. Worse, because they can’t wrap their head around what the impact could be, they block it out, and fall back on, “I really don’t care what summit Joe’s attending” instead of diving in for a swim.
So, what can a re-tweet mean for your customer and field service business? It can provide an avenue that gets you more exposure than you ever dreamed possible. What are the benefits? It’s free. It’s fast. It’s easy. Why it took actually writing a blog and someone re-tweeting it for me to mentally organize it, I’m not sure. What I do know is that this type of communication is finally comfortable.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the irony of this blog is that if you’re reading it, you probably found it through Twitter. However, for those of you for which this is intended, perhaps some cutting and pasting is in order by your fellow tweeters. Next step for you? A Twitter handle.